Balanced Cloke Gets Back to Basics
IT has taken some time away from football for Travis Cloke to realise how important it is to have balance in his life.
The Magpie forward was going through the toughest patch of his career at the start of this season. A return of just nine goals in nine games, for a player of his quality, simply did not cut it.
Seeking to adjust his off-field preparation, the 27-year-old investigated the AFL SportsReady’s Next Goal program, a career transition initiative backed by the AFL Players Association that is specifically developed for current and recently retired AFL footballers.
For Cloke, that means spending one day a week over 12 months at fashion and marketing company Lifestyle Brands.
“It’s a bit different to sit at a computer and switch away from footy,” Cloke told AFL.com.au. “It’s really improved my clarity in football and where I want to go and what I want to do.”
It is no coincidence then that Cloke’s on-field performance has improved drastically. Cloke has booted 22 goals since round 10 and has started to recapture his All Australian form of 2011 and 2013.
Another factor is his transformation is a new willingness to take on feedback. In the past, by his own admission, he would too often brush aside commentary on his form.
This year, he has made a conscious effort to listen to others’ thoughts and suggestions. “There are a lot of experts who know what’s going on and some of them have some valid points and you do need to take them on board,” Cloke said.
“I think, this year, that’s part of my growth aspect. I’ve started to really listen to some of these voices.”
Cloke’s form spike has not correlated with team success. The Magpies have dropped three of their past four games and face a rugged challenge against Essendon at the MCG on Sunday afternoon to re-establish their finals credentials.
Cloke and Collingwood understand what’s riding on the game. With places in the top eight so tight, one slip up could be damaging in the context of their season.
“It’s massive. Both of us need a win to keep our top eight hopes alive and get some confidence leading in to the back half of this season,” he said.
“Collingwood versus Essendon is such a great rivalry, so it should be a fantastic game.”
Although Cloke is starting to set himself up for life after football, his passion for the game is still as strong as ever.
“I’ve got a lot of unfinished business and there’s still a lot of work I need to put into my game still,” he said.
Original article from: afl.com.au
Reporter: Ben Guthrie